Plot Outline: Our film details what happens when four rebellious Korean youths decide to hold up a gas station, and then when everything goes well, decide to do it again about a week or so later. Only, when they attempt to rip off the gas station this time, things don’t go as planned. It seems that the owner has started sending his money home every evening with his wife. The guys, not willing to walk away empty handed, decide to stick around pump gas for their own profit. Throughout the night we find out more and more about these peculiar individuals.

The Review
To sum up my feelings on Attack the Gasstation, I think it’s best to relay what a friend told me immediately after he watched the film” “Kind of a stupid movie, actually, but still very entertaining.” He’s right too. It’s stupid, it’s silly, but it’s a fun watch and if you have a certain sensibility that makes it an incredibly accessible kind of flick. After first watching it, I decided to spread the love around as much as I could. The friends who did watch it all seemed to like it, which says something only because the friends in question aren’t exactly known to be fans of Asian cinema. Ultimately, it’s a hard movie not to like. Even if it has some cringe-worthy moments (there is a sequence involving a boy band that will grind almost everyone’s nerves), it’s still just too much of a goofy fun time to pass up. Although I have essentially spoiled my review at this point, I’ll continue onward and hopefully support my argument somewhat.

After I had first watched Attack the Gasstation, my mind felt warped. It was as if I had made a trip into a completely different form of reality. My mind had been taken to a far away land where being punished meant that you were forced to stand on on your head, and where robbers didn’t carry guns but instead only fought with their fists and the occasional stick. Looking back, Attack… was likely my introduction to Korean cinema, and I don’t think I could have started with a better film. During the early 2000s, it seemed as if many of the most popular South Korean titles that were gathering any sort of notoriety were movies that were highly influenced by Hollywood. This film was also part of that era of films, but it delivered enough familiar content within it to make it seem accessible – but it also had a foreign kick to it that made it seem wholly original. It is a comedy that isn’t entirely different from what one might find in the American market, but the cultural differences are enough that it acts as a brilliant introduction for Asian cinema newcomers.

The movie also makes an interesting choice in picking out who the audience is supposed to root for. Ultimately, this isn’t a movie with truly “likable” characters. This isn’t one of those films where, throughout the picture, we come to understand the criminals and watch as they soften up just in time for the credits to roll. No, we do in fact grow to know these characters, and yes, depending on the viewer, they might even grow to love them, but these criminals never do really change. Certainly not in any heartwarming fashion. The film tells us who they are, but it’s up to the audience whether or not they will come to accept these rogues. During my first viewing of the film, at the halfway point I found myself a little frustrated that these characters were so… mean. Even to the nicest characters in the film, these guys are rude, but as the movie pressed on, I started to feel okay with it. Since we’re talking about these characters, rude or not, I might as well mention how quirky and humorous they are. The ‘genius’ artist, the music loving hipster, the failed athlete, and the hilarious stick-waving authority figure “bulldozer.” Each character is a bit of a caricature, sure, but they are all fleshed out during the movie and are played with a great amount of charisma. Despite the fact that our leads are essentially villains, they still walk away smelling like roses. Some of this is due to smart writing, but mostly it comes from actors who are fully invested in their characters.

The Conclusion
I recommend the film highly, but it is a movie that will speak to select audience members. If the idea of watching a fairly bizarre teen comedy, one that is done in a way that you’ve never seen before, entices you, then this flick is definitely the way to go. It’s certainly one of my favorites from the early years of the “new wave” of South Korean cinema.

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